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Don’t suck twice.

Published: Feb 23, 2011 2:28 pm

Every company makes mistakes. Startups by definition are more prone to making mistakes. Your app is at version 1.0, you’re slowly getting traction, and you’re scared you might screw something up.

I’ve seen startups that get so scared they become paralyzed by fear that the tiniest little mistake might bring their whole company down. I’ve heard companies internally debate button placement before they had a single customer even interested in their product.

As your startup grows there are things that you won’t be perfect on, and that’s okay (as long as it’s not a security hole). When you make a mistake, iterate quickly and fix it. Your goal as a startup is not to be perfect at version 1.0, but to not make the same mistake twice.

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said:
‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’

Two days ago I published my first (“real”) interview with Andrew Warner. Before the interview I practiced a hundred times, recorded several demo interviews with friends to make sure my equipment worked, and I memorized all of my questions. You know what? I still sucked (I botched a question, Skype auto color-corrected me green, there was a slight echo, etc.). However, it was a fantastic learning experience for me. I learned more in those 15 minutes with Andrew then I did in all of my rehearsals. My next interview will be a little bit better as I have learned from my mistakes. It still might not be perfect, but I won’t repeat those mistakes. Don’t be afraid of failure.

Planning is incredibly important, but you will learn so much more by actually getting some skin in the game. You have to get out of the boat to walk on water. Pick something your company sucks at and fix it. Don’t suck twice.

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Hi, I'm Paul Hontz.

I'm a YC alumn and I love startups. I created TSF to highlight companies I find interesting. You can learn more about me here.

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